By nearly all accounts, President Obama rose to the occasion in his remarks yesterday on the Tucson massacre. The most important line, at least from a political perspective, was this one:
And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy — it did not — but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.
(Emphasis mine.) In this way, the president contradicted all those who attempted to place blame for the massacre on right-wing rhetoric. As we I’ve noted numerous times over the last few days, a principal offender was the New York Times.
In today’s editoral, the New York Times praised Obama’s speech (of course), but also renewed their line of attack. How could they do so, when Obama contradicted the attack? They wrote:
This horrific event, he said, should be a turning point for everyone — “not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation.”
Note the omission of the key clause. This is high journalistic malpractice. They edited the president to remove his rebuke of their position, and they did so without ellipses.
If you read the editorial now, you will find that they have corrected the quote. (Consequently, it makes no sense any more, but it never made much sense in the first place.) And, as we have come to expect from the NYT, they did so without any correction, indeed, without any indication whatsoever other than to say “A version of this editorial appeared in print . . .”